A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Otherhood is a comedy about three moms who feel neglected by their young adult sons and make a trip from Poughkeepsie to New York City to surprise them on Mother's Day. It's based on the book Whatever Makes You Happy by William Sutcliffe. There are serious issues underlying the humor, such as infidelity, parent-adult child relationships, middle-age anxiety. Viewers can expect profanity and sexual banter, including "f--k," "s--t," "jerking off," "d--khead," "a--holes," and more. A man and woman undressing and passionately kissing are interrupted in a comic moment (a brief look at a male backside). A monogamous gay relationship is depicted respectfully. Lead characters drink alcohol in several sequences; in some instances it results in mild inebriation, in others drunkenness. Though Otherhood's MPAA "R" rating seems a bit harsh, the movie will have little appeal for most kids.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Lifetime friends Carol (Angela Bassett), Gillian (Patricia Arquette), and Helen (Felicity Huffman) get together in Poughkeepsie for their annual Mother's Day celebration in OTHERHOOD. They have to spend the time together because their three oblivious sons, who all live in New York City, can't ever seem to remember to acknowledge the special day. The moms are so annoyed that they make an impulsive decision: They'll pack up, make the two-hour drive to NYC, and surprise all three before Mother's Day is over. And what a surprise it is. Gillian's son, Danny (Jake Hoffman), a struggling writer, is in the middle of a painful break-up. Matt (Sinqua Walls), Carol's son, a rising star in the business world, is in the throes of passion with an attractive woman he's just met. And, Paul (Jake Lacy), a successful designer, hasn't officially come out to his mom, Helen. In the days that follow the three mothers learn as much about themselves as they do about their sons' lives, and the three sons make some important changes as well.
Is it any good?
Good parts for women "of a certain age" are hard to come by in Hollywood, so three stellar actresses decided to produce one for themselves; unfortunately, the material doesn't measure up. The filmmakers, with Cindy Chupack as director and co-writer, try to play it safe. They include as many obligatory species as possible, none of them fresh or memorable: a meddling Jewish mother, an African American preppie, a widow who hasn't emerged from grief, a happily gay young man, an insecure writer. They don't stint on trite situations either, like a mom inadvertently catching her son on the verge of sex with a beautiful young woman and the predictable make-over moment. As solid as the entire company of players is, Otherhood feels forced and by-the-numbers. Sadly, the script simply misses more than it hits.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the drinking and intoxication shown in Otherhood. What was it intended to tell us about the characters? Are there consequences for the drinking?
In any form of storytelling, most lead characters have an "arc." Find out what a character arc is, then pick any two of the moms or sons and talk about the changes they make (or don't make) over the course of the movie.
Parent-child relationships are featured in many successful movies. What qualities do you think it takes to establish successful alliances, particularly as kids reach adulthood? What are your favorite parent-child films? Why?
- On DVD or streaming: August 2, 2019
- Cast: Patricia Arquette, Angela Bassett, Felicity Huffman
- Director: Cindy Chupack
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, sexual references, and brief nudity
- Last updated: September 19, 2019
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